Several Gambian students have been refused visas to the US to take part in an international robotics competition without being given any reasons, reports Al Jazeera.
The Doha-based broadcaster quotes the director of The Gambia’s ministry of higher education, Moktar Darboe, as saying the students had to pay $170 (£131) each for the visa application. “Their parents had to sacrifice a lot to pay this fee,” he said.
An al-Jazeera producer tweets that the team will send their robot to the US competition:
— Colin Baker (@airlockben) July 3, 2017
The First Global Challenge, which begins on 16 July, is asking students to come up with robotics solutions to finding clean water.
A group of Afghan students have also been refused visas. Joe Sestak, the president of FIRST Global told the US newspaper, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that they knew the chances of the students getting visas were slim.
“These nations [Afghanistan and Gambia] have some of the highest refusal rates. Gambia is 70%,” he is quoted as saying.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette adds that the State Department does not comment on visa denials.